Based on the 1993 film starring Johnny Depp, this new musical is offers a comic and tender-hearted celebration of love: between children and parents; romantic partners; friends; and most of all, siblings. More…
The pair at the heart of the show are Joon, a young woman dealing with mental illness, and Benny, the big brother who’s determined to take care of her. When a charmingly eccentric stranger comes into their lives, he throws their carefully calibrated world off-kilter—maybe for the better.
“Guenther has enhanced the script taking out unneeded material and making other material stand out. Add to that the lush enjoyment of some wonderful songs...I was in musical heaven...There were times I could not tell if I had tears because I was laughing or crying as the show is so emotionally charged. It is tender, sentimental and highly moving...Beautifully directed...Guenther’s book made me laugh, cry and fall deeply in love with this show.” Full Review
"his new musical enjoys outstanding direction by Jack Cummings III, clever choreography by Scott Rink, and top music direction by J. Oconer Navarro with orchestrations by Michael Starobin. The show's marvelous cast brings the honest, touching, and entertaining story to life...The musical numbers are a great fit for the story and the vocal performances couldn't be better." Full Review
"This is a lovable, witty, spry musical with an incredible cast...Pinkham gives a deliciously physical, marvelous performance with astounding grace, sincerity and warmth. It’s truly Pinkham’s show...A gifted, mesmerizing performance...The production’s music...is delightful. It completely captures the whimsy and the serious-mindedness of the film. The lyrics are mostly rhyming couplets but it works...Cummings III keeps things moving at a sprightly pace...Highly enjoyable.” Full Review
“This improbable musical is a truly creative and moving adaptation of its original source material. If anything, this entertaining work expands and embellishes the story further in unexpected ways...The main leads are completely believable and the inter relationship dynamics are spot on...The music and lyrics are melodic and amusing...Cummings III doesn’t shy away from the darkness by any means...This film to musical incarnation is infused with a graceful warmth." Full Review
"Transcends expected limitations and serves as the basis for a highly styled, richly inventive, sad and funny fantasy which employs classic silent movie pantomime to create a magical world of its own...Bryce Pinkham's award-caliber Sam is the heart and soul of this production. He gracefully and gently coaxes all of the humor out of the comic routines which he performs without ever sacrificing the integrity of his characterization." Full Review
"The rare example of a thing not lost, but found, in translation...The stage version follows the film pretty closely. It's hard to pinpoint exactly why it plays better...The songs — somewhat generically Broadway-sounding, but good of their kind — do most of the heavy lifting...What gives ‘Benny & Joon’ its periodic lift is the stuff Pinkham brings to the table...Pinkham is the show's wild card...The book...improves on the original screenplay by fleshing out the story of Joon.” Full Review
“The musical version captures all the things I loved in the movie and brought them to life on the stage. This musical will make audiences laugh as well as take them on a nostalgia-filled emotional journey...With an exceptional cast, a stunning set and beautiful music...As much as I loved the show and the nostalgia it brought forth I found some of the musical numbers in act one a bit pointless and almost distracting.” Full Review
“Imaginatively directed...Finally, a musical with wit, warmth and whimsy. Cummings creates an environment where both reality and fantasy feel right at home. Pinkham is in his element...While light and breezy, the story manages to deal with serious issues through characters who are flawed, but very likable...The music by Gasser is pleasant if not memorable...Some vocals seem stretched.” Full Review
"A sweet and innocuous musical...With only the safest explorations of its darker undertow...Sam remains the primary appeal...All you want is another peek at Sam's colorful inner life, dispensed by Pinkham in addictively entertaining spurts...It's when things flip back to traditional musical mode that ‘Benny & Joon’ loses its eccentric luster...Most of those unadorned moments unfortunately fall to Benny and his love interest...A dreary complement to the main event.” Full Review
“’Benny and Joon’ isn't overly concerned with reality -- Most...problems were built into the source material, the 1993 film -- but musicalizing it accentuates them...’Benny and Joon’ has its offhand, off-the-cuff charms, but it is saddled with a too-sunny attitude about mental illness and a principal character who is spun out of pure celluloid. Even fairy tales need a kernel of truth if they are to be believed; this one has a prince who, despite a fine performance, tries too hard to be charmi... Full Review
“’Benny & Joon’ is, essentially, a romantic comedy, so there must be obstacles to be resolved...Book writer Guenther has a delicate balancing act to perform...It’s too much for one mortal writer to pull off. As a result, this ‘Benny & Joon’ ultimately seems too contrived to be fully satisfying...The musical didn’t really work...as a story. Still, it has some good moments, mostly from Pinkham as the truly one-of-a-kind Sam...The songs are pleasantly melodic but a bit bland.” Full Review
“Guenther has given the stage adaptation fuller-developed characters than were in 1993 romantic comedy...Here, in the Paper Mill’s 1,200-seater, even with the further work that’s gone into it, doesn’t exactly leap to the stage...It doesn’t offer intimacy when intimacy is ideal. The musical is filled with whimsical and sentimental moments, including bits of small magic. Some get lost on the mammoth stage." Full Review
"The result: Boring and Jejune...This musical treatment, directed by Jack Cummings III, misfires on all cylinders. Those unfamiliar with the film will most likely be left scratching their heads wondering why there is so little dramatic tension. An even bigger question that looms: What is the point of all this singing when few of the songs move the story forward?...Somehow, Elless manages to rise about the material...Pinkham’s Sam is also a delight." Full Review
See it if You liked the Aidan Quinn, Mary Stuart Masterson, Johnny Depp film - this is a pleasant and enjoyable surprise!
Don't see it if You expect it to be the movie and you don’t like forays into musicals
See it if You like romantic funny musicals or are a fan of the film. A great take on mental health issues. Also get to visit Milburn and the Papermill
Don't see it if You don't have a romantic heart, or want a huge production.
See it if You are interested in a thoughtful, well told story about people who are struggling real life challenges. A must see for Bryce Pinkham fans
Don't see it if If you have issues with challenging topics like mental illness and loss
See it if you want 2 c a very sweet, moving musical about a brother/sister relationship & the importance of family in caring & protecting each other.
Don't see it if you don't like serious musicals that touch on mental illness told through the eyes of the brother/sister relationship & the sacrifices made.
See it if you like "new-styled" and/or "derivative" American musical theater (the likes of Fun Home, Curious Incident..., Full Monty, Groundhog Day).
Don't see it if you seek traditional musical theater mores, must have B'way "pzzzazzz," need theatre to be transcendent and not just a night out, need more.
See it if You know and love the movie, like stories that deal in a lighthearted but truthful way about mental illness.
Don't see it if You want a high-energy musical with big production numbers. This is more like a play with music. It's more play than musical.
See it if You want to see a quality show in NJ. It’s different and it’s sweet.
Don't see it if You just want to be entertained by a big musical. There is a story here and that is the focus more that a big, entertaining production.
See it if You want something original portrayed on the stage with clever staging, outrageous acting, and great singing.
Don't see it if If you need productions numbers with dancing, and splashing sets.
See it if Ok, I was prepare to be disappointed. But this show won me over completely. The music and lyrics are uneven and mostly forgettable. But this
Don't see it if cast was spectacular. Bryce Pinkham and Hannah Elless both shine. Bryce in particular gives one of my favorite performances in a while.
Also It's definitely worth the trip.
See it if you enjoyed the movie, you should enjoy the musical. The songs were OK, but the performances are strong. Act 2 was much better than Act 1.
Don't see it if you're expecting great theater. Musical from popular movies rarely work. In this instance, this worked better than Pretty Woman.
See it if you like non-traditional musicals. B & J offers some great singing interspersed with great performances especially by the actor playing Sam
Don't see it if you don't like a show that deals with mental health issues in a family setting (Next to Normal)
See it if You enjoyed the movie, like Bryce Pinkham or Hannah Ellis, want something not so "Broadway", are interested in mental illness on stage
Don't see it if You want big singing & dancing, like creative & smart writing, like a story that feels fleshed out, want good or memorable music
See it if You enjoy fun and quirky musicals, that responsibily address mental illness.
Don't see it if You aren't a fan of musicals that make you think or believe that a musical must have big dance numbers.
See it if I found it so much more than I expected. The acting was very good and it had a little bit of everything in it...comedy, romance, heartache.
Don't see it if The entire show was 2 1/2 hrs. I thought it could have been a little shorter.
See it if you want to see great acting in a low keyed musical. Bryce Pinkham was excellent in his portrayal of his character as a special needs ind.
Don't see it if you don't like musicals
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